This website provides information on the tricolored blackbird (Agelaius tricolor), a near-endemic California passerine and the most colonial songbird in North America. We seek to develop a site with content appropriate for the largest audience, with basic natural history and conservation information, access to reports, images and videos, links to tricolors in the news, summaries of past and current research and monitoring efforts, and data entry capability for participants in the triennial tricolored blackbird survey (an every three year volunteer effort to estimate the number of tricolors in California) and persons observing color-banded tricolors.

CDFW Seeks Public Comment on Formal Status Review by June 1, 2016.


Today the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) issued an appeal for public comment on a proposal to list the Tricolored Blackbird as a threatened or endangered species. CDFW is soliciting public comment regarding the species’ ecology, biology, life history, distribution, abundance, threats and habitat that may be essential for the species, as well as recommendations for management of the species. Comments, data and other information can be submitted by email to If submitting comments by email, please include “Tricolored Blackbird” in the subject heading.

Comments may also be submitted by regular mail to:

California Department of Fish and Wildlife
Nongame Wildlife Program
Attn: Neil Clipperton
1812 Ninth St.
Sacramento, CA 95811

All comments received by June 1, 2016 will be evaluated prior to submission of the CDFW report to the Commission.

California Fish and Game Commission Advances Tricolored Blackbird to Candidacy under CESA


At its December 10, 2015 meeting, the California Fish and Game Commission (Commission) voted 3-1 to advance the Tricolored Blackbird to candidacy under the California Endangered Species Act, triggering a 12-month period during which the California Department of Fish and Wildlife will conduct a status review to inform the Commission’s subsequent decision on whether to list the species as threatened or endangered. As a candidate species, the Tricolored Blackbird receives the same legal protection afforded to an endangered or threatened species (Fish & Game Code, § 2085).

State Endangered Status Allowed to Expire


Today the California Fish and Game Commission voted 2-1 to allow the emergency protection of the tricolored blackbird to expire by not recommending a full review by the Department of Fish and Wildlife of the status of the species.

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Announces 90 Day Finding


Today, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service announced a 90 day finding of a petition filed by the Center for Biological Diversity to place the Tricolored Blackbird on the Endangered Species List.

The finding states: "Based on our review of the petition and sources cited in the petition, we find that the petition presents substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that the petitioned action may be warranted for the tricolored blackbird (Agelaius tricolor) based on Factors A, C, D, and E. However, during our status review, we will thoroughly evaluate all potential threats to the species. Thus, for the tricolored blackbird, the Service requests information on the five listing factors under section 4(a)(1) of the Act, including the factors identified in this finding (see Request for Information for Status Reviews, above)."

The public may submit comments to the Service by midnight November 17, 2015 regarding the status of the tricolored blackbird by one of two methods:

C.B.D. Petitions U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service for Emergency Listing of Tricolored Blackbird as Endangered under E.S.A.


Today the Center for Biological Diversity petitioned the Secretary of the Interior to list the tricolored blackbird as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. The Center cited the recent steep population decline as documented in the most recent statewide surveys conducted in 2008, 2011, and 2014 as evidence for the need for federal protection.

Tricolored Blackbirds Get Emergency Protection Under California Endangered Species Act


This morning, the California Fish and Game Commission voted 3-2 to grant emergency protections to the Tricolored Blackbird. The Commission's action grants a 180-day period for the Department of Fish and Wildlife to determine whether to make the protections permanent.

The Commission was responding to a lawsuit filed by the Center for Biological Diversity in October, 2014.

Center for Biological Diversity Files Emergency Listing Petition


The Center for Biological Diversity on Wednesday, October 8, 2014 filed an emergency petition to protect the tricolored blackbird as endangered under the California Endangered Species Act. The Center cited the numerous threats faced by tricolored blackbirds and the dramatic decline documented most recently in this year's Statewide Survey. The Center's petition listed losses of native habitats, including wetlands, grasslands and shrublands, to agriculture, urbanization, market hunting and shooting in autumn when tricolors forage in mixed flocks on ripening rice with red-winged blackbirds, pesticide use, and harvest of grain fields while eggs and young are in the nests as among the factors resulting in the decline. The losses of native habitats and widespread pesticide use are the most likely causes of the chronic low productivity of the species, and the continuing severe drought is likely further stressing the species.

2014 Statewide Survey Final Report Released


The 2014 Statewide Survey Final Report was released on July 31, 2014.

This report contains the results of the 2014 Statewide Survey, comparisons to past statewide surveys, and conservation recommendations.

Results of the 2014 Tricolored Blackbird Statewide Survey


The 2014 Statewide Survey was held from April 18-20, 2014. It appears to have been the most comprehensive Statewide Survey ever, with 143 participants surveying for tricolors at 802 locations in 41 counties.

The California population estimate derived from the Survey was 145,000 birds. This is a 44% reduction from the 258,000 birds seen during the 2011 Survey and a 63% reduction from the 395,000 birds seen during the 2008 Survey. Thus, the number of tricolors in California continues a rapid decline.

The number of birds declined most markedly in the San Joaquin Valley, where there were 78% fewer birds seen in 2014 than in 2008 (73,482 vs. 340,703), and along the Central Coast, where there were 91% fewer birds seen in 2014 than in 2008 (627 vs. 7014). The number of birds in the Sierra Nevada foothills was up 145% compared to 2008 (54,151 vs. 22,586), and the number of birds seen in southern California was up 126% compared to 2008 (12,386 vs. 5,487).

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